Note: The following article is reprinted by permission of POLITICO LLC, and originally appeared on June 2, 2020.

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I Was the Mayor of Minneapolis and I Know Our Cops Have a Problem

Racism permeated the culture of the department. But there are ways to change that culture that other cities can copy.

By R.T. Rybak

The searing images from the past several nights of anger and violence in dozens of cities across the country have shocked and horrified the nation. But there is one image that we need to keep fixed in our minds, the one that started it all:

A human being, staring calmly off into the middle distance, while his knee slowly suffocates another human being.

Our repulsion should boil over as we realize that the white police officer, who took an oath to protect and serve that person on the ground, who is black, would not have acted so brutally if the man he was restraining were white. Until every one of us can see that image for what it is—an example of a two-tiered justice system that treats black and white people differently—we cannot move another inch forward. We need to acknowledge that on some level, every one of us had a role in keeping this inequity in place.

I’ll go first, because after living in Minneapolis all my life, covering the Minneapolis Police Department as a Minneapolis Star Tribune reporter and, more directly, serving 12 years as mayor of this city, I should.

My own efforts to change a police department and its culture failed badly. That starts with appointing three different police chiefs who all made change but not enough. It includes attempts to diversify the force, to change practices in mental health and numerous efforts to work with individual officers on softening their approach so they could empathize more deeply with community. These failures will haunt me for the rest of my life, and it should. As each of us sees and acknowledges our own part it can be paralyzing. It was for me.

But I was heartened by something a colleague at the Minneapolis Foundation said to me the other day. Chanda Smith Baker grew up and raised a family as an African American in north Minneapolis, and for years has lead the Pillsbury United Communities. She has seen so many more of the consequences of our deep, endemic racism than I ever will. But as we surveyed the damage and pain in our community she said simply: “We have no choice but to act.”

So we are acting. Our foundation, which has been centered on racial equity for decades, is granting $1 million in the next few weeks to community-based solutions that strive for justice and healing in the aftermath of George Floyd’s death in police custody. Knowing we need to have tough conversations about race and culture, we launched our “Conversations with Chanda” podcast that will give our community, which has avoided those tough conversations for too long, the space to “go there.”

Like everyone in this city, we know that is still not enough. A very well-intentioned friend asked me what one thing he could do to make this situation better. I had to say, “There’s no one thing.” You can’t fully stop racism in policing without understanding the racism in the laws we ask our police to enforce, the racism in a criminal justice system that over-incarcerates black men, the racism in how we white Americans perceive a threat when we see someone who is black. An unjust economic system matters, and so does the issue where I focus most these days: the intolerable racial inequities in education. So does the classism that allows so many of us with privilege to have someone else’s child put on a police uniform and walk into tough situations so we can safely, mindlessly go about our lives.

But, right now, nothing matters more in Minneapolis than reforming the city’s police. An obvious first step would be to demilitarize the department. As a mayor who took office right after 9/11, I quickly saw that the community-based preventive programs like Bill Clinton’s “cops on the streets” initiative lost funding while we seemingly had a blank check for equipment and weapon systems that too often have the officers we want to “protect and serve” separated from their communities by shields and armored turtle suits.

Fortunately, we don’t need to invent a solution from scratch. We already have the Obama administration’s “21st Century Policing Plan,” which lays out in detail how our country’s police departments can be rebuilt around six pillars: building trust and legitimacy, policy and oversight, technology and social media, community policing and crime reduction, training and education and officer safety and wellness.

One of the most important values I took from that plan is something I learned on a deeply personal level as a mayor: Police officers are human beings. We then train them, put them with others we have trained into cultures that develop around the job and expect them to perform in the most high-stress situations imaginable.

We also know a lot about what makes that human being performing as a police officer thrive in the job or become a headline from a searing incident we could have prevented. The Center for Data Science and Public Policy at the University of Chicago has studied officer conduct over time in major departments and analyzed what actions signal when behavior starts to go off track. This helps us act more quickly when we need to intervene so that officers can be retrained or treated, and get back on track.

When I first saw this research, I realized that if, as mayor, the police chief and I, and the department’s supervisors, had known early when our officers needed our help and attention, we could have saved tens of millions in settlements costs and scores of lives. The problem was we never had the technology or tools to connect in real time what was happening with each officer and we didn’t have access to what we now know about how to step in.

That’s why I joined the founding board of Benchmark Analytics, which is now using that work in 60 cities and the state of New Jersey to connect department internal personnel systems to that deep research so mayors and chiefs can do what I never could to prevent the next tragic incident.

There are many more specific actions that can be taken but above all we need to address police culture. I have never been a police officer, so my experience is limited to what I have seen as a reporter and mayor. But I have come to know so many officers and continue to struggle with how I can know so many truly committed people whose collective actions I don’t recognize. In my city, at least, we have a majority of officers who let a minority of officers create an us-vs.-them culture that over time dehumanizes the people and neighborhoods the officers are supposed to protect and serve. Throw race into this toxic mix and you end up with behavior that often has to be named for what it is: racism. It plays itself out when a knee stays on the neck of a human being treated like he’s not human.

Much has been written by people who know more than I about police culture, but I do know it can be reformed only from within. That means the majority of officers need to rise up and take control of their culture. To the many good officers I know exist, I say this: I know the consequences of being shunned by your co-workers, but I also know you know in your heart that George Floyd should not be dead. Your silence is deafening and this city, and this country, cannot move forward until we hear your voices.

There is good news. We have stood at this place before, in Minneapolis and across the country. Yes, this might seem like the beginning of a familiar and dispiriting cycle: a terrible incident, a few days of promises and then, as the attention fades, so does the hope of change. But I also know that this is not a predestined conclusion. Change is possible. I know because I have seen it before in this very city.

Forty-one years ago, I was a young crime reporter. Night after night, I covered a police department that had deep issues of trust with two communities: residents who were black, and residents who were gay.

All these years later, one of those groups has seen enormous change. The Minneapolis police, which back then routinely beat and humiliated gay residents, is now one of the most gay-friendly departments in the country with openly gay officers serving in every part of the force, including at one point, the role of chief. There was no one action that made that possible, instead, in thousands of interactions, that wall creating an us vs. them turned into a we because each group recognized we are human beings on the other side.

The fact that we have seen so much progress with gay residents and almost none with black residents says a lot about the perniciousness of racism. We need to own that. But it does also say that change is possible, and now we have to prove that is true.

Copyright 2016 POLITICO LLC.

The Covid-19 pandemic did not stop law enforcement officers from patrolling areas by car, motorcycle or even foot, directing traffic during signal malfunctions or accidents, assisting in processing crimes, or executing other duties required to protect and serve their community. While these might be considered routine activities, they still put officers at high risk of exposure to the Covid-19 virus. Likewise, new requirements and responsibilities such as responding to complaints for shelter-in-place violations have increased face-to-face interactions, as well as Covid-19 exposure, for law enforcement personnel.

Law Enforcement COVID 19

But even after state and municipal shelter-in place restrictions end, exposure risks will persist. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), communities will be dealing with the virus through the summer months, with a potential second wave coming in the Fall. That means that agencies and their officers will need to maintain their diligence for the foreseeable future.

Law Enforcement Technology that Support Agency Workforce Challenges

Overcoming this pandemic will take resilience and time, but it is important for us to tackle these new challenges with innovative solutions. With the abiding impact of Covid-19, public safety agencies need to determine the most efficient strategies for controlling its effect and managing fluctuations in workforce availabilities. While dealing with these peaks and valleys isn’t new to some public safety agencies, it’s safe to say that most have not experienced limited workforce challenges that could last several weeks, if not months.

The Benchmark Covid Impact Management System (CIMS) was developed to address these challenges. With CIMS, public safety agencies have a single-source, turnkey software platform — designed to report and track all Covid-related incidents in one unique, easy-to-administer and security-protected location. CIMS provides agencies essential reports which include Potential Exposure, Sick Leave, Test Tracker, and Return to Service.

According to the National Police Foundation COVID-19 Law Enforcement Impact Dashboard, nearly every state has had a law enforcement officer exposed to the virus. Law Enforcement TechnologyOur Potential Exposure Report is completed when a police officer or department staff member has reported that they may have been exposed to the Covid-19 virus. It includes:

  • Definitions/guidelines of exposure and close contact
  • Date, time, location and nature of potential exposure
  • Name and contact information of individual exposed
  • Description of any health-related symptoms since contact
  • Recommendations for further actions

The Sick Leave Report should be used when a department employee has officially gone on sick leave due to exposure, and provides data on:

  • Date leave effective, symptoms and Covid-19 related queries
  • Results of any medical tests conducted during sick leave
  • List of contacts within and outside of the agency
  • Information on specifics of quarantine, if applicable
  • Details of any future work-related conflicts due to leave

The CIMS Test Tracker Report provides relevant information on any Covid-19 test taken by an officer or staff member. It includes:

  • Reason for taking test and details of exposure, if applicable
  • Date, time, type and location of test
  • Symptoms exhibited at time of test and following test
  • Results reported for the Covid-19 test

Lastly, the Return to Service Report should be completed and reviewed before an officer can return to work following a sick leave, and summarizes:

  • All symptoms reported since beginning of sick leave
  • Answers to all Covid-19 related inquiries
  • Current condition of employee on sick leave
  • Requirements of return and anticipated date of return
  • Review and recommendations for return to service

While the COVID-19 pandemic has formed new obstacles for public safety, the Benchmark Covid Impact Management System provides agencies the information they need to manage their workforce efficiently and effectively. To learn more about CIMS, as well as view a demo of the system, visit https://www.benchmarkanalytics.com/cims/.

Computer-based training can be traced back to the mini-computer and mainframe of the 1960s and ‘70s. It was the first-time training was conducted without having to rely on printed worksheets or face-to-face instruction, and instead, employees logged into shared terminals to access training materials. It was 1998 when we experienced the first generation of online instruction.

(Source: eLearning Industry https://elearningindustry.com/history-of-blended-learning)

Curated Content as a Service

Today, many organizations deliver online instruction through training platforms, which are online tools that provide training administrators and employees access to information and resources that support training delivery and management. However, not all training platforms are the same, and there are pitfalls to having a legacy platform in place.

What is a legacy training platform?

Legacy training platforms refer to software applications that rely on old methods and have become outdated, such as traditional Content-as-a-Service (CaaS).

Traditional CaaS software provides a content repository, such as a collection of videos, research papers and PowerPoints, to be accessed by organizations for training and professional development needs. While having content in one place is certainly beneficial, there are disadvantages to having this type of legacy system within your organization. Legacy System

For example, some organizations purchase off-the-shelf training that is designed for a mass-market audience versus a specific organization’s need. The traditional CaaS will store the off-the-shelf training, but it lacks the capability to distinguish what training is relevant to your organization’s specific needs. Additionally, protocols and industry standards constantly change, and traditional systems aren’t wired to update courses and content that would be considered outdated or obsolete.

It can also be difficult for training administrators to get to the content they want within the traditional CaaS platform because they’re spending time filtering through unneeded training. In the end, organizations may have learning content that they do not utilize or worse, is not relevant to their current needs.

What is Curated Content-as a-Service?

Engagement is critical when training your employees. According to HR Daily Advisor, “When learners are provided access to personalized, curated learning content that is applicable to their current roles and career trajectories, they will constantly search for opportunities to exhibit the skills they’re learning at work because they’ll be relevant. And when they optimize their performance and see how their learning paths are helping them achieve their goals and move forward in their career trajectories, they’ll be more engaged at work.”

Curated Content as a Service

At Benchmark, we understand that the most successful LMS outcomes is research-driven, evidenced-based eLearning content. Equally important, the most effective LMS is one that engages your employees in a way that inspires them, elevates their skills and improves their performance in meaningful, measurable ways. Which is why our LMS strategy employs Curated Content-as-a-Service™ (C-CaaS) as our differentiating, breakthrough process for enabling 21st century workforce skills in the workplace.

We’ve adapted the 21st Century Workforce Skills model to serve as a roadmap for partnering with public sector entities to create a thoughtful, curated content plan that will elevate your employee skill sets – and measurably improve performance levels ­– to better meet the needs and goals of your agency.

Here’s how the process works:

  • Meet and Assess
    Meet to understand and assess your current training program and compliance needs — as well as the level of workforce skills.
  • Establish Objectives
    Set eLearning objectives to comply with your training guidelines and address specific areas in need of improvement.
  • Curate Content
    Assign a Benchmark C-CaaS team of research-driven content curators to identify and deploy content that meets your objectives — accessing our robust library of eLearning offerings.
  • Configure and Implement
    Collaborate with your employee development team to configure and implement our LMS platform to meet your unique needs.
  • Evaluate and Evolve
    Evaluate your LMS content regularly to track performance, obtain feedback and make informed adjustments to evolve and advance your offerings.

Our LMS was built specifically with public sector agencies in mind. The Benchmark eLearning team includes thought leaders with years of experience in government operations, policymaking, education, professional development and eLearning proficiency.

Their expertise includes research and data analytics, software architecture and design, research-based content curation — along with highly skilled platform configuration, implementation and customer support.

To learn more, visit our Benchmark eLearning Differentiator: Curated Content-as-a-Service™ page at https://www.benchmarkanalytics.com/government-lms/

The first documented use of data and analysis in American policing was in 1906 by August Vollmer in Berkeley, California. Vollmer organized patrol beats based on reviewing police reports and pin-mapping crimes.
(Source: Increasing Analytic Capacity of State and Law Enforcement Agencies: Moving Beyond Data Analysis to Create a Vision for Change by the Bureau of Justice Assistance, Law Enforcement Forecasting Group).

Data in Policing

Data and analysis have now been part of American policing for more than a century – evolving from Vollmer’s pin-mapping to comparative data tables; from simple patterns analysis and batch processing on mainframe computers to user interface with real-time analysis; and eventually to more flexible and sophisticated analysis.

From Undefined to Predictive
Considering the growth of information today, as well as expansion of technology solutions, it is critical for public safety agencies to understand their organization’s data. However, data and analysis vary from agency to agency, and this can best be described in the five stages of transformative management for law enforcement.

Transformative Management is how agencies oversee processes and data related to police force management, to improve the effectiveness of both their civilian and sworn personnel. The stages start at Undefined and move along a pathway  to Manual, Digital, Analytic and Predictive. At the International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP) 2019 Annual Conference, Nick Montgomery, Chief Research Officer at Benchmark Analytics, shared with attendees what each stage meant:

  • Undefined: An agency is at the Undefined stage when they have not begun implementing data-collection systems and have no operational initiatives to utilize data in decision-making.IACP 2019 Presentation
  • Manual: An agency is at the Manual stage when they have defined processes — though the processes are often managed by manually logging data into spreadsheets and using rudimentary analysis.
  • Digital: At the Digital stage, agencies start automating manual processes and source programs to develop data management workflows.
  • Analytic: In order to analyze data, agencies need to be able to “read” it. At the Analytic stage, an agency has the data and is beginning to understand what it means.
  • Predictive: Law enforcement agencies can benefit from developing an analytic capacity, and this is demonstrated in the Predictive stage. The Predictive stage is when agencies use the data, reports, and analytics to make meaningful decisions – optimizing the outcomes they aim to achieve through transformation.

Montgomery also shared that agencies often achieve these stages in two milestones. The first milestone is Undefined to Digital. The second milestone is Digital to Predictive.

In the first milestone, agencies reach the Digital stage and have automated manual processes, as well as start to bring in data. However, agencies may not know how to utilize the data yet. In the second milestone, agencies reach the Predictive stage because they engage in multiple data sources, as well as use robust reporting tools, to hone in on the data that matters most— in order to better serve their personnel and surrounding community.

Reaching the Predictive Stage
Agencies should incorporate technology solutions that can help them reach the Predictive stage in transformative management, such as:

  • Early Intervention Systems (EIS)
    EIS platforms are used by many agencies — but most are trigger-based systems that regularly produce inaccuracies. In Montgomery’s IACP presentation, he shared that trigger-based Early Intervention systems typically flag the wrong officers and can produce a high rate of false negatives and false positives in a department.

    A research based EIS utilizes machine learning, has the ability to learn patterns in data as well as to use those patterns to make predictions. As a result, agencies significantly reduce the number of incorrect flags and, instead, can take a proactive and preventative approach when identifying officers that may require additional training, counseling or intervention.

    Learn more about how Early Intervention Systems have evolved, as well as view the full IACP presentation here.

  • Personnel Management Software
    Personnel management software, like the Benchmark Management System®, is designed to capture all day-to-day operational information in one location. It also provides agencies an all-encompassing, fully automated management tool – essential for capturing critical data, as well as departmental reports and forms. For example, BMS provides custom Exposure Forms, used to monitor all interactions related to coronavirus – to help identify trends, facilitate proactive intervention and help keep law enforcement agencies safe.

    The BMS reporting dashboard also provides agencies with a fully-automated administrative backbone – acting as a workforce multiplier to help your agency do more with less.

  • Training Management System (TMS)
    It is critical for agencies to have the tools to deliver up-to-date training organization-wide, especially during the evolving coronavirus pandemic. A TMS allows departments to train virtually, track completion and send updates in a way that best prepares officers to serve successfully and safely. Additionally, a TMS tracks training activities crucial for managing certifications to meet mandatory compliance.

    Learn about how a TMS can help your agency in our post: The Benefits of a Learning Management System for Today’s Public-Sector Organizations.

If you would like to know more about what Benchmark can do to help your agency reach the Predictive stage, visit us at Ready to do more with your data?

Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) has impacted communities across the country, as law enforcement and other public sector agencies prepare for the short- and long-term effects of this virus. This includes having tools in place to support staffing, training and communication; having ample supplies such as personal protective equipment (PPE); being prepared for evolving community requests; and delivering plans and procedures that reflect recommendations from local, state and federal authorities. COVID-19 Funding

To ensure that public safety agencies across the U.S. are prepared for the current impact of COVID-19, as well as what lies ahead, Federal grant resources have been issued.

Federal Grant Resources: BJA-CESF
On March 30, 2020 a grant solicitation was shared by the Office of Justice Programs  regarding the Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA) Coronavirus Emergency Supplemental Funding (CESF) program. The funding program has $850 million available and the BJA intends to make 1,873 awards.

The BJA-CESF program will provide funding to assist eligible states, local units of government, and tribes in preventing, preparing for, and responding to the coronavirus. BJA -CESF

In the solicitation, the BJA shared that “States, U.S. Territories, the District of Columbia, units of local government, and federally recognized tribal governments that were identified as eligible for funding under the Fiscal Year (FY) 2019 State and Local Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant (JAG) Program are eligible to apply under the Coronavirus Emergency Supplemental Funding (CESF) Program solicitation. Only the State Administering Agency that applied for FY 2019 JAG funding for a state/territory may apply for the state allocation of CESF funding.”

The eligible allocations for the FY 2020 CESF Program can be found at: https://bja.ojp.gov/program/fy20-cesf-allocations

What will BJA-CESF be used for?
Funds awarded under the CESF program will be used to prevent, prepare for, and respond to coronavirus. Allowable projects and purchases include, but are not limited to:

  • Overtime, equipment (including law enforcement and medical PPE)
  • Hiring
  • Supplies (such as gloves, mask, sanitizer)
  • Training (such as training management software for organization-wide virtual training — as well as cross-training of personnel for temporary duty reassignment to assure proper coverage of essential duties)
  • Travel expenses (particularly related to the distribution of resources to the most impacted areas)
  • Addressing the medical needs of inmates in state, local, and tribal prisons, jails and detention centers.

BJA-CESF program next steps
The application for BJA-CESF is due May 29, 2020. Cities and states are awarded funding on an ongoing, rolling basis from now till the application due date.

For more information how the BJA-CESF program works and grant submission help, visit our Grants Page at https://www.benchmarkanalytics.com/covid19-grants/.

The importance of COVID-19 data collection
The International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP) has shared that collecting data and documenting response protocols for future review and assessment during this time is important as well. “While pandemics rarely occur, an agency can learn a lot about its emergency response by studying past efforts,” as stated in IACP’s resource Organizational Readiness: Considerations for Preparing Your Agency for COVID-19. Types of data include, but are not strictly limited to, COVID-19-related calls for service, officer exposure, staffing numbers, and health and wellness measures of officers.

COVID-19 Data Collection

To that, agencies are partnering with personnel management software providers for monitoring, tracking and reporting data. For example, the Benchmark Management System® can create custom COVID-19 Exposure Forms that capture interactions related to coronavirus — to help identify trends, facilitate proactive intervention and help keep department personnel serving on the frontlines safe. This data can also be used post-pandemic to justify reimbursement of expenditures at the state and federal levels.

Visit benchmarkanalytics.com to learn more.

 

More than ever before, public safety and other local government agencies – including state, county and all municipalities therein – face a host of challenges within their respective communities.  Creative thinking and discovering new ways to problem solve are critical at this time — as is identifying the most effective means for communication and collaboration between colleagues.

21st Century SkillsWith that said, it is essential for today’s public sector workforces to be equipped with 21st century skills that allow them to be successful in complex work environments . . . while executing daily operations. These skills include:

  • Critical Thinking: The ability to observe, analyze, problem-solve, and make decisions.
  • Creative Thinking: The ability to organize, see what’s not there, and problem-solve in an open-minded, stimulating environment.
  • Collaboration: The ability to work effectively with others, compromise, and delegate.
  • Communication: The ability to share ideas in different formats, both oral and written, as well as actively listening and engage with one another.
  • Information Literacy: The ability to identify, find, evaluate, and use information effectively.
  • Media Literacy: The ability to identify and utilize different types of media — and understand the messages shared.
  • Technology Literacy: The ability to use and understand technology to access, integrate, create and communicate information.
  • Flexibility: The ability to adapt to change, as well as the willingness and ability to respond to changing circumstances.
  • Initiative: The ability to think individually and innovatively, develop and implement something new, unique or improved . . . and make incremental, bold changes to improve processes.
  • Social Skills: The ability to listen, cooperate, and have empathy for others.
  • Productivity: The ability to problem-solve, manage time, handle stress, and make solid, actionable decisions.
  • Leadership: The ability to think strategically, manage people, initiate change —and plan and deliver on proposed activities and projects.

Source: http://www.nea.org/tools/52217.htm

How Do We Advance 21st Century Skills in the Public Sector Workforce?

We are two decades into the century so the concept of  “21st century skills“ is not a new one, and some may assume that today’s workforce has embraced these skills. Yet, research shows that, for many, 21st century skills are still lagging. According to an American Management Association Critical Skills Survey, 51.4 percent of survey respondents said employees had average communication skills — and 46.9 percent stated employees had average skills in creativity. Additionally, in a report by the Stanford History Education Group, individuals in the study demonstrated a lack of literacy skills and had a hard time distinguishing advertisements from news articles . . . or identifying where information came from.

As community leaders, public safety and other local agencies must all take action to continue building these skills. This is not a lofty aspiration.

21st Century WorkforceWith the right tools and plans in place, organizations can provide the training and courses to build their current workforce. Public safety agencies and municipalities can begin by utilizing technology, such as an effective learning management system (LMS), to turbo-charge the learning experience. The Journal stated a 21st century LMS should have an intuitive interface, collaboration tools that go beyond standard teacher-learner communication, analytics and reporting dashboards — and the capacity to structure learning for and individuals, as well as for an entire organization.

Additionally, an effective LMS can provide courses that build specific 21st century skills. A few examples include:

  • Courses that are collaborative and measure success by department or unit results build collaboration skills.
  • Courses that promote cross-cultural understanding build social skills.
  • Courses that provide opportunities for learners to lead, implement and delegate develop leadership skills.

The entire public sector workforce can develop 21st century skills by establishing mentoring programs where individuals collaborate, share knowledge — and communicate both in-person and through written formats. The Alliance for Innovation also suggests organizations can create career development programs, utilizing features in the LMS, where employees move in various directions – gaining essentials skills to keep pace in today’s workplace.

The Benefits Are Clear. 

The benefits of developing your workforce goes far beyond day-to-day operations. By advancing 21st century skills, employees are increasing their capabilities to manage their responsibilities efficiently and effectively — and employers are strengthening their internal groups to develop, grow and lead the organization.21st Century Public Sector Skills

If you are ready to learn more about tools that can help your organization build 21st century skills, take a look at our blog post “The Benefits of a Learning Management System for Today’s Public-Sector Organizations.”

A robust learning management system (LMS) software can make a big impact on an organization’s training and professional development strategy. Case in point: e-learning can increase learning retention rates by 25 to 60 percent (TechJury), vs. 8 to 10 percent with face-to-face training.

So what exactly is a robust LMS?
A comprehensive, top-to-bottom software application that can administer, manage, track and deliver training and learning effectively across an entire organization. It’s software that provides easy ways for administrators to deliver content, as well as easy ways for your workforce to access the information, participate in threaded discussions, and complete courses. These systems built specifically for advancing learning can also be used to host compliance training, as well as generate required reports and certifications.

Public safety, in fact all municipal government sectors that utilize an LMS, can make a huge impact on the way their employees learn and experience professional development. Here are some fundamental things to keep in mind when considering an LMS software for your organization:

1. One size does not fit all.
The unique needs of public safety and municipal agencies are important considerations when it comes to selecting the right training platform partner. Not all systems are alike and can vary in their ability to meet the personalized needs and engagement criteria you’ve set for your team.

Learning Management System, One Size Does Not Fit AllFor instance, an LMS allows organizations to upload all their training content, multimedia, PowerPoints, and much more into a secure platform that allows them to assign training by person, job role, department, unit, or location — all depending on their unique training needs.

According to eLearning Industry, with the right LMS environment, employees feel empowered to interact and engage within the software platform, learn at their own pace, and participate in each step of every course/training session. If an individual prefers team-based learning, they can go through a collaborative training plan with their peers.

2. Enhanced tracking.
For organizations that provide training for multiple employees, it can be difficult to track learner progress and engagement, as well as course completion dates. With a robust LMS software, organizations can easily manage employee training schedules, track learning and professional development activities, and access certifications required for compliance.

Being able to track when individuals finish courses or training segments provides organizations the information they need to move employees along the learning path — whether to continue to develop their skills in current courses or move onto the next online learning activity. It can also inform when the last training was taken, and what must be retaken, to ensure employees’ skills and knowledge are up to date. Additionally, if leadership sees that an employee hasn’t successfully completed courses, they can connect with the employee and collaborate to create a training plan that leads to growth and success.

For public safety agencies specifically, tracking training activities is crucial for managing certifications to meet mandatory compliance. With an effective LMS in place, there is instant insight and visibility into your workforce’s compliance activity through tracking and dashboarding functionalities.

3. Easy access to information.
LMS software provides training administrators and end-users easy access to information, whether it be generating custom reports or access to specific courses. Reports can outline learner progress, as well provide updates on completion of courses and certifications.

Learning Management System Access to InformationGaining access to metrics around course completion and course abandonment allows administrators to evaluate if the content being delivered is serving its purpose by meeting the needs of their organization. It also helps training leaders develop next steps for the organization — whether it be adding new materials and resources or assigning a new version of content for compliance purposes.

The benefits of a robust Learning Management System are real and compelling — which is why so many organizations across the U.S. utilize them. If you are ready to adopt an LMS, or are looking to switch to one built for your public-sector organization, visit
https://www.benchmarkanalytics.com/government-lms/ to learn more.

The annual Midwest Security and Police Conference and Expo (MSPCE) 2019 was recently held at the Tinley Park Convention Center. The conference brought together law enforcement (LE) leaders from across Illinois within a 35,000-foot exhibit hall – and included informational sessions presented by security and LE professionals, professors, psychologists, authors and financial experts.

Benchmark Analytics had the opportunity to exhibit, as well as learn more about the challenges and opportunities in 21st century policing. Here are some of our key takeaways from participating at MSCPE 2019:

Agencies want to track community engagement.

It’s important for law enforcement agencies to establish public trust, and many agencies participate in community engagement activities to support this initiative. Just a few examples of community engagement activities include meeting local business owners, attending meetings and events, or participating in community projects. Many law enforcement leaders at MSCPE were interested to learn more about how they could track these efforts.Community Engagement

Being able to track and manage community interactions provides agencies the data they need to understand what’s contributing to proactive enforcement and community partnerships. It also provides a framework for leveraging that momentum to build sustainable positive engagement with their communities.

As an example, the Benchmark Community Engagement platform tracks and manages the time and effort officers spend engaging with the community, as well as records feedback received. This help agencies collaborate from an informed position and ensure their department is continuously responsive to community-based issues and activities.

Officer wellness goes beyond physical health.

MSPCE 2019 provided an informational session, PTS, Why Cops Experience Traumatic Stress Differently and discussed the importance of building resiliency, managing and treating officers, as well as making positive choices about diet, nutrition and exercise.

Police officers have a wide variety of tasks and duties, which of course can include responding to extreme incidents. So it’s no surprise that these extreme incidents and on-the-job trauma can contribute to higher rates of PTSD, depression and mental illness among officers. In fact, some mental health challenges are more prevalent among the law enforcement population (Statistics are underreported for police):

  • PTSD: 35% for police officers vs 6.8% in general population
  • Depression: 9% – 31% vs 6.7% in general population
  • Suicidal thoughts: 7% of officers have persistent thoughts of suicide

Other associations, such as the International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP) and Police Executive Research Form (PERF), have symposiums, toolkits and webinars dedicated to supporting the mental wellness of police officers.

Use-of-force data is critical.

Also a prominent topic at MSPCE was the FBI’s launch of its National Use-of-Force Data Collection. According to their official press release, the database is “in an effort to promote more informed conversations regarding law enforcement use of force in the United States.”Use-of-Force Data

This initiative, which has been discussed at many conferences and meetings this year, has prompted agencies to look at how they document incidents, collect and organize information, review use-of-force reports, and access related data and analytics. By utilizing use-of-force data and analytics, agencies have the opportunity to notice any positive or negative trends, which can create a pathway for agencies to recognize and help their officers accordingly.

What to do next.

These are just three of the key takeaways from this year’s MSPCE, but there is so much more to be discussed. Join us in keeping the conversation going by visiting us at the National Internal Affairs Investigators Association Conference in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, as well as at the IACP Annual Conference (Booth #4839) in Chicago in October. Benchmark Analytics will be demoing its Officer Management and Early Intervention platforms, as well as providing insight and informational sessions on officer wellness, 21st century policing and other critical topics in law enforcement today.

Determining whether to get your agency accredited is probably one of the most important decisions you can make as a law enforcement leader. Yet, when police accreditation is mentioned, it can spark thoughts like – Does your agency have the time or personnel bandwidth to go through the process? Can you afford accreditation? What is the difference between national and state accreditation?

What is accreditation?

Law enforcement accreditation is a self-initiated, voluntary process and is based on standards which are reflective of best practices in law enforcement. Accreditation standards cover roles and responsibilities; relationships with other agencies; organization, management and administration; law enforcement operations, operational support and traffic law enforcement; detainee and court-related services; and auxiliary and technical services.

What is Accreditation?Much like accreditation for hospitals, colleges and schools, police accreditation involves an outside autonomous agency or group that establishes the professional best-practice standards for departments, as well as ensures the agency is following those standards by conducting a comprehensive onsite assessment.

What is national accreditation?

The national accreditation program for law enforcement agencies is the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies, Inc. (CALEA). CALEA was created in 1979 with the purpose of improving the delivery of public safety services by maintaining a body of professional standards that support the administration of accreditation programs. The primary benefits of CALEA accreditation are: Controlled liability insurance cost; administrative improvements; greater accountability from supervisors; increased governmental and community support; means for developing or improving upon an agency’s relationship with the community; and facilitation of an agency’s pursuit of professional excellence.

CALEA accreditation is open to all types and sizes of law enforcement agencies, and its program seals are the “Marks of Professional Excellence” for today’s public safety agencies. The program seal reflects the gold standard benchmark associated with CALEA.

Agencies undergoing CALEA accreditation experience a five-phase process:

  1. Enrollment: Agencies enroll in one or more of the CALEA Accreditation programs.
  2. Self-Assessment: Initial self-assessment timeframes can take 24 – 26 months, and according to CALEA, “self-assessment refers to the internal, systematic analysis of an agency’s operations, management and practices to determine if it complies with applicable standards.”
  3. Assessment: The assessment phase ensures standard compliance.
  4. Commission Review Decision: The final credentialing decision is made by the Board of CALEA Commissioners. The Board facilitates a review hearing to discuss the assessment.
  5. Maintaining Accreditation: CALEA accreditation is an on-going quality performance review of an agency. Therefore, reaccreditation is contingent upon the agency’s ability to meet CALEA standards and demonstrate continued compliance.

What is state accreditation?

State accreditation programs are designed to help law enforcement agencies establish and maintain standards that represent current professional law enforcement practices; to increase the effectiveness and efficiency in the delivery of law enforcement services; and to establish standards that address and reduce liability for the agency and its members.

According to the Michigan Association of Chiefs of Police Law Enforcement Accreditation Program (MLEAC), Michigan agencies seek accreditation for multiple reasons:

  • Accredited status represents a significant professional achievement.
  • Accreditation acknowledges the implementation of soundly written directives that are conceptually and operational effective.
  • Accreditation requires the agency to ensure the standards and written directives are being followed by provided proofs.

In state accreditation programs such as the one offered by MLEAC, the general process for becoming accredited includes a thorough self-analysis to determine how existing operations can be adopted to meet state standards. When procedures and policies are in place, a team of trained state assessors verify that applicable standards have been successfully implemented.

National vs. State — Key Differences


A key difference between state and national accreditation programs is workload, or what is actually involved in achieving accreditation. State programs often have less standards to meet than national accreditation programs.

Key differences in state and national accreditation

For example, MLEAC has 107 standards and the Texas Police Chiefs Association Foundation Law Enforcement Agency Best Practices Recognition Program (TPCAF Recognition Program) has 166. In comparison, CALEA has approximately 480 standards.

In many cases, state accreditation programs for police believe their standards cover the same important points as CALEA — and are written to be specific to agencies within that state. According to the TPCAF Recognition Program site, the program is similar in nature to the national accreditation program, but easier to administer and is designed specifically for Texas Law Enforcement. Similarly, Neal A. Rossow, Accreditation Program Director at MACP stated, “We designed an accreditation process that any department could afford and could achieve. Our first accredited agency was the Rockford Department of Public Safety with 10 officers.”

Because of these two key differences, many agencies use state accreditation as a stepping stone to CALEA accreditation; simply, it provides the ability to experience the process without getting overwhelmed by cost or the number of standards.

CALEA is an outstanding national accreditation program, as are many state accreditation programs. So whichever accreditation program an agency selects and receives, they are demonstrating to themselves and the community they serve, their commitment to excellence in law enforcement.

To learn more about police accreditation, take a look at our blog post: Agency Accreditation: What to Consider Before Pursuing it for your Department.